- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (AP) - An eastern Wisconsin couple has finally brought home their 3-year-old adoptive daughter from the Democratic Republic of Congo after a three-year wait prompted by a complicated adoption process.

Kevin and Nicole Craig of Howard returned from the central African country on Sunday morning with the latest addition to their family, Elisabeth Grace, who they had been trying to bring back to Wisconsin since she was 5 months old, WLUK-TV (https://bit.ly/1n7WGlA ) reported. They were welcomed at Green Bay’s Austin Straubel International Airport by friends, family, co-workers and legislators who helped support them during the adoption process.

“I can’t tell you this process has been easy,” Nicole Craig said. “But it’s worth it, she’s worth it, they’re worth it, they’re all worth it. Every child deserves a family.”

In 2013, the Congolese government stopped issuing exit permits for children adopted by foreign parents, saying the nation’s adoption system was beset by corruption and falsified documents. The move has prevented children who have already been adopted by international families from being given the exit permits they need to leave the country.

In October, Congress passed the Adoptive Family Relief Act in an effort to help American families in exceptional circumstances where their adopted children are unable to come to the United States in a timely manner.

The legislation has helped at least six Wisconsin families who have adopted children from the Democratic Republic of Congo but have been denied exit permits to bring them home, according to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R- Wisc.

“These children are being welcomed home. They’re going to be well taken care of, so we’re going to continue that pressure until every last one of these adopted children are home,” Johnson said.

Francois Balumuene, Congo’s ambassador to the U.S., said Saturday that 82 children soon will join their adoptive parents in the latest cases to be cleared by the government. He said the latest adoptees bring the total number of cases resolved to about 300 in four months, but as many as 1,000 other cases are still awaiting resolution.

“The fight’s not over until all these kids are home,” Kevin Craig said. “We have our daughter home. That’s a humongous victory for us.”

More than 4 million orphans live in the Congo, according to the United Nations.

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Information from: WLUK-TV, https://www.fox11online.com


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